The success of biomass pilot projects in Armenia have demonstrated the potential for rural communities to benefit economically from exploiting agricultural waste. In addition to creating new revenue streams, the projects point the way to a more sustainable and energy-efficient future.
Why is this needed?
Armenia has a great deal of biomass waste which could be made readily available to processors through sustainable forestry practices, re-diverting agricultural waste streams, and harvesting wild plants. Yet while biomass constitutes an untapped additional source of income for rural communities, the country has lacked the infrastructure and investment necessary for exploiting this sustainable resource as well as the necessary knowledge and awareness.
Actions in brief
How has this project helped?
The BioHeatingRural project began by undertaking a detailed mapping of available biomass resources in the country and identified straw as a key by-product. The country produces around 27,000 tonnes of straw waste a year, which could be used to generate thermal energy. The project determined that the average requirement for heating public buildings in rural villages could be met by straw in the surrounding fields. Jerusalem artichokes and wood were also identified as having biomass potential.
The next stage was to identify the most suitable technologies for converting local biomass into usable energy. Biomass pelleting / briquetting machines had to be imported, installed and operated. Existing household boilers and stoves were replaced with biomass-fired boilers. Finally, government officials helped in the preparation of official translations of key international (ISO) and European (EN) standards to ensure that Armenia conform to the appropriate standards.
Local stakeholders were selected to launch pilot projects in the regions of Armavir, Ararat, Tavush and Shirak, and to monitor and demonstrate biomass equipment in operation. A total of three pelleting machines, six boilers and two gasifiers were installed. A Bioenergy Action Plan was prepared to deliver these changes in a coordinated and strategic manner.
Who has this project benefited?
The project is the first real step towards kick-starting a viable market for biomass energy for the first time. Pilot projects have shown that biomass processing can provide safe and sustainable energy for rural communities, and contribute towards regional economic development.
A list of potential partners was prepared and disseminated towards the end of the project and the involvement of stakeholders has strengthened networks. In addition, the team produced the Renewable Energy Sources handbook for students and teachers to explain the potential for using renewable energy in Armenia.Print pdf